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App to find best time of day/year to see an Object.

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#1 Leafus

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 06:38 AM

Hi All,

 

I use Skysafari Pro, Stellarium and various other apps to plan observing, but I cannot find a simple way to determine when is best time/day/month to view/image an object taking into account Altitude, Darkness (Astro Twilight end/moon phase), Sky Position and Latitude.

 

For example, I want to image (with my new S50) the Eagle Nebula, but it is pretty low right now in the south. I want to find when in the year it will be optimum/possible to image so I don't waste time trying to image 10 degree over the horizon. And, of course if that is the best it will ever be no matter how patient I am, then I'd try to image it now.

 

To me, this seems like basic information any astronomer would want to know so I am surprised it's not a function on SS or an app or website to do it. It would surely be pretty easy for SS to add this.

 

Find best time of a day to look at an object is simple, yet there is no easy way on any app Ive found to do the above. I can graph the object in SkySafari which technically has all the information, but it gets unusable/very time consuming to try to find the answer.

 

Has anyone found anything that works well.

 

Cheers, Leafus



#2 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 07:10 AM

I just look up the time the object transits in Sky Safari.  

 

From there, I know it rises 2 hours a month earlier...  

 

Jon


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#3 bunyon

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 08:01 AM

The trouble is: there is no ONE time it’s best. M16 has an RA of 18h 20m, so it culminates at sidereal time 18:20. That puts it opposite the sun when the sun has RA 6h 20m. That’s when the sun is in Gemini, or around July 1.

So M16 will have its highest midnight appearance around July 1. But, as Jon says, a month changes that only by two hours. On June 1, its highest at 2am. On August 1, at 10pm. Etc.

Its maximum altitude never changes, so any of those three times would give you the same imaging opportunity. Thus, there is no single time you’re looking for.

While there is no single best time, there are also plenty of bad ones. Now, for instance is not great. A month from now, the Sun will culminate at the same time as M16 and you’ll have no shot.

Edited by bunyon, 29 November 2023 - 08:03 AM.

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#4 Bean614

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 08:03 AM

SkySafari allows you to change the Date, Time, etc.  Just enter the Time/Date you want to view, and you're all set.


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#5 terrain_inconnu

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 08:22 AM

The android-only "Mobile Observatory Pro" app provides this sort of information under the "Events" tab for each object (see first screenshot). For example, in the case of M16 the best time to observe would theoretically be the 25th of June 2024 (at least in my location). However, as indicated on the same tab, the moon will also be quite bright during that night. Based on that input one can schedule their session accordingly. On the "Overview" tab one can shift through the dates and check visibility across a 12 month period (see second screenshot). On the "Sky View" tab one can also plot the trajectory of each object at any given time of the day for the next couple of months (see third screenshot). Never understood why SkySafari does not provide similar data, which, as you say, is rather straightforward to implement (the "graph object" functionality in its current form is utterly useless).

Attached Thumbnails

  • MO Pro - Events Tab Example.jpg
  • MO Pro - Overview Tab Example.jpg
  • MO Pro - Sky View Example.jpg

Edited by terrain_inconnu, 29 November 2023 - 08:23 AM.

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#6 flamidey

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 08:30 AM

SkyTools Imaging will give you this information. Using the "Prime Time of Year" feature you can seen what are the best periods to image based on the exact configuration of your setup.

 

This is not a cheap piece of software but the work behind it is quite amazing and it's pretty much the only one I know of that gives you that level of details and practical info.

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • CleanShot 2023-11-29 at 08.27.46.png

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#7 Blueox4

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 08:31 AM

https://telescopius....lts_per_page=10


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#8 Blueox4

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 08:32 AM

Also, doesn’t the S50 show you what’s available to image? 



#9 flamidey

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 08:34 AM

How would you do what the OP asks for in Telescopius? I can see a "yearly altitude" but nothing close to getting an optimal time of year for observing.



#10 Blueox4

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 08:38 AM

How would you do what the OP asks for in Telescopius? I can see a "yearly altitude" but nothing close to getting an optimal time of year for observing.

It’s called options. Why don’t you let the OP worry about what’s useful to them.


Edited by Blueox4, 29 November 2023 - 08:38 AM.


#11 Gschnettler

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 08:39 AM

The way I do it might not be ideal, but it works and it’s pretty fast.

I create a list of objects I want to image. I select one in Sky Safari on my phone (I’m sure similar apps would work fine too). I set the time to 1am (which i consider to be the middle of the night) and then I adjust the month and look at when it’ll be highest in the sky (at 1am).

I make a note of it and then move on to the next object in my list.

Once I have a list of objects and the month that they’ll be the highest in the sky at 1am I can plan my imaging calendar and have a good idea of which month is best for imaging each target.

For objects high in the sky it’s possible to start imaging a few months earlier or later. For objects low in the sky you might only have a month or so to work with.

But generally, if an object is high in the sky at 1am, then it should be good to image several hours before and after 1am, depending on the object. For objects that are at zenith at 1am you can pretty much shoot it from sunset to sunrise. For objects lower in the sky you’ll get a shorter time window, but at least a few hours before and after 1am you should get some good imaging time.

It’s sort of a brute force approach but it works well for me. Now that I have my list, for any given month I have a nice list of targets to choose from.
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#12 flamidey

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 08:41 AM

It’s called options. Why don’t you let the OP worry about what’s useful to them.


That was a sincere question, not a criticism of your reply.
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#13 Blueox4

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 08:46 AM

Maybe Best Seen option with Yearly selected..

 

https://forum.telesc...best-seen/418/5


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#14 flamidey

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 08:53 AM

Another approach (granted, it's not a straightforward one) is to use AI tools. For example, you can ask an AI chatbot to use online tools to give you a list of the best targets for each week / month of the year. Input your precise location, tell it to use online astronomy calculation tools, give criteria such as the type of objects, your camera and so on.
Here is an example of a prompt I used:
 

Context: I am an astrophotographer and want to plan my astrophotography sessions for the next year, using my own equipment.

Prepare a detailed planning of astrophotography targets for the next year, using the following parameters:
A. When choosing targets, use this order of priority (from higher to lower):
1. Any nebula with good SHO data from the Sharpless catalog.
2.Emission nebulas
3. Planetary nebulas
4. Other nebulas
Do not include any galaxy in the list. Try to choose less popular targets.

B. My location coordinates are: Latitude xx° xx’ xx North, Longitude xx° xx’ xx West. Only choose targets visible at least 3 hours between astronomical dusk and astronomical dawn. My time zone is EST.

C. The planning should list, for every month, one main target from the Sharpless catalog and two secondary targets from other catalogs if possible.

D. As i use a monochrome camera and narrowband filters, prioritize targets with interesting SHO signals.

E. Using plugins, create a csv file with the following information:
1. Target name
2. Target popular name
3. Month to image

And the results :
 

Attached Thumbnails

  • CleanShot 2023-11-29 at 08.52.24.png

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#15 edsmx5

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 09:31 AM

Maybe Best Seen option with Yearly selected..

https://forum.telesc...best-seen/418/5


Thanks for this!
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#16 vtornado

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 09:50 AM

Sometimes the old ways are the good ways ...

 

  • Get a paper planishere
  • turn the dial until the object is the highest position above the horizon.
  • Read around the dial, that shows the date/time when object is in that position.

 

For example for M42, I set the planishere so that it is on Meridian.

On Nov 29 it is around 12:15 AM,  Dec 25 10:50, ... March 1 6:20PM ...


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#17 jcj380

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 02:58 PM

stellarium-web.org shows twilight versus dark night versus moonlight, etc.  You could adjust the time until your target is on the meridian and check the darkness indicator.

 

For example, M42 will be close to the meridian here about 0100 tomorrow morning.  But that will occur in moonlight at 91% phase with the moon in Gemini.  Tells me M42 probably won't be at its best tonight.  wink.gif

 

I do have a planisphere if I don't want to futz with my laptop.


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#18 Leafus

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 08:10 PM

Lots of great and surprisingly diverse advice here. Many thanks.

I’ll check out the software mentioned and also dig out my planisphere.

That chatbot idea sounds amazing. I had no idea such complex and detailed questions could get an answer. Maybe it routes the request to someone on here to fill out the answer 😁

#19 Starry_Spruce

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 10:51 PM

Another interesting visual tool, though perhaps not as useful for the job as telescopius, the stellarium web app, or even the planisphere, is: https://www.astrospheric.com/

 

Scroll past the coveted viewing conditions section and there is an 'astronomical clock'. This allows you to make a list of objects and view their altitude in the night sky on the 'face of a clock.' You can scroll through time to see the positions change relative to time of day. It doesn't appear you can select specific dates, or scroll fast enough to see the entire year in a useful way, however.




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